Our relations with our feline friends come a long way and it’s not at all surprising that they would make their presence felt even in the movies we make. The earliest reference of cats being filmed dates back to 1894, when Professor Welton’s “The Boxing Cats” was filmed in Thomas Edison’s studio.
The boxing cats were a part of the “cat circus” that toured the US with Prof. Welton and was thought of to be part of a promotion campaign for their shows. In 1901, a short film was made by G.M.Smith, “The sick kitten” which featured two kids playing doctors to a sick kitten with an unknown illness.
A kitten made its presence felt in the hair-raising scene in the French film L’Atalante (1941) and Alexander Hammid made them the protagonists of his 1947 black and white short “The Private Life of a Cat”. “Alice in Wonderland” (1951), “La Dolce Vita” (1960), “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1965) followed and made their way to Walt Disney’s greatest celebration of our feline companions in a 1970 musical, “The Aristocats”.
Since then cats have sometimes made their way to the lap of a mafia lord (The Godfather) or partnered Harry in his cross country odyssey (Harry and Tonto) or starred as the intelligent and cynical Francis (Felidae) and there are some cats you can never forget. The sagas of Garfield, Puss in Boots and Chesire the cat have continued fascinating filmmakers and their audiences alike.
As we head towards a time when New Yorkers are celebrating their first annual Cat Film Festival where the felines are not only restricted to their on-screen outing and can make their presence felt even as audiences and it seems that this may be an initiative to a global event that will follow soon, let’s have a glance at some of the cat films that have enthralled us in the recent past.
1. Kedi (2016):
A turkish documentary film made on the stray cats of the back alleys of Istanbul and directed by Ceyda Torun have received many accolades since its premiere in the Istanbul Independent Film Festival on 21st February 2016. Kedi is not just a documentary on stray cats but the stories of the thousands of cats who roam freely in the metropolitan city of Istanbul since time immemorial.
Cats have been a part of the lives of the people who live here and vice versa. Some are wild and find a way of living all by themselves while others are tamed and depend on humans for their care. Thirty five cats were selected, while nineteen of them made their way to the editing table and seven of them featured in the final cut. They are Sari, Duman, Bengü, Aslan Parçasi, Gamsiz, Psikopat, and Deniz.
2. A Street Cat Named Bob:
This is a British biographical film directed by Roger Spottiswoode based on the book by the same name and the World according to Bob by James Bowen. The film which won the Best British Film at the UK National Film Awards 2017 depicts the story of a homeless man and former heroin addict James Bowen and his life with a stray ginger cat, Bob who keeps on coming back to him. With Bob’s presence and a series of incidents that follow James finally comes off the prescribed methadone that he was under and his life takes a serious and surprising turn.
3. Nine Lives (2017):
An ancient proverb says that a cat has nine lives. When Tom, a billionaire, goes to buy a cat for his adorable daughter Rebecca on her 11th birthday, Felix Perkins the eccentric owner of a cat store presents him with a tomcat, Mr.Fuzzypants and says that the cat has used seven of its nine lives. Enroute to the party Tom meets with a terrible accident only to find himself trapped in the cat’s body. Adopted by his own family Tom realizes his priorities and gets a different perspective of life. This is an English language French comedy film directed by Barry Sonnenfield.
4. Puss in Boots (2011):
A must watch where you have the characters from your favourite nursery rhymes packed in a single adventure movie directed by Chris Miller. Antonio Banderas stars as the outlaw tomcat Puss in Boots who has to clear his name as a fugitive by stealing magic beans from the infamous criminal Jack and Jill. What follows is a series of events involving Kitty Softpaws, Humpty, Jack from Jack and the Beantstalk and Mother Goose among many others. Will Puss be able to clear his name or will he be arrested needs to be watched.
5. Cats And Dogs (2001):
Though a little older than the movies mentioned in our list, we could not omit this one. The age old war between our feline and canine friends takes an evil turn when Professor Brody tries to make a serum to cure dog allergies in humans. An evil cat, Mr.Tinkles has to find a way to sabotage his efforts and wants to conquer the world by making every human allergic to dogs while the dogs have to save the professor and his invention from the wild cats. This film is directed by Lawrence Guterman and has been followed by a sequel in 2010 by the name of “Cats and Dogs- The revenge of Kitty Galore”.
With more cat movies slated for 2018 release, let’s wait and watch if they can do more justice to our feline friends or they would be mere repetitions of the ones we have seen before.